Is the Real Estate Cooling Down? – Part II

This is part two following the last article Is the Real Estate Cooling Down?

I attended a conference on Investment in 2005 today. To be honest, I have very few investment and financial knowledge and I never care too much on the financial numbers such as the government debt and raise in gold price. I was surprised to see so many people concern these numbers so much.

One of the argument was about the trend of real estate price. I asked the question about the real estate bubble of Hong Kong and Hainai and asked about their compare between Shanghai’s situation and other real estate crashes in the world. The host answered my question. I found it reasonable.

Regarding the crash in Hainan, it was not an economy crash. It was purely cheating. No houses were built after the real estate developer got the money. They spent it elsewhere.

The biggest difference between Shanghai and Hong Kong is, Shanghai is in a closed economy. Renminbi is not free trading currency. You cannot exchange Renminbi to any free trading currencies, like USD or Canada Dollar. That means, people in China cannot invest in investment with higher return. So people have to invest locally.

People have been very disappointed in the stock market in Shanghai or Shenzhen. Huge amount of money goes out of the stock market. There are very few investment channels for the capital, so real estate has to accommodate the money. The money comes not only from people in Shanghai, it comes from all across the country. The number is a strong indicator that 40% of high-end properties in Shanghai Real Estate market comes from outside Shanghai.

So the conclusion is, the real estate price will keep raising until Renminbi becomes a free trading currency. At that time, money will flow away.

Disclaimer: It is just one of the opinion I heard. It does not represent my point of view.

Donation Needed for Zhan Xiao Feng

The Bad News

Within 24 hours, I got the same message from three different channels, that a student in SJTU (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) was seriously ill. His name is Zhan Xiao Feng 詹晓峰. He majors in computer science. Now the only possible cure for him is liver transplant. The three different channels are – 1) Shuguang Ye forwarded the message to SJTU Alums alias in Microsoft and I read the news on my smart phone when I was on my taxi back from Shanghai Airport home. 2) Wendy told me Danny has forwarded the message to her. 3) Claire Song left comment on my blog about the message. I am very moved by the helping spirit and willing to help. The cost for the liver transplant is at least 300,000 RMB or around 36,000 USD.

Update: PayPal icon removed

For more information about the donation, please refer to the following resources:

Wangjianshuo’s Blog Donation Matching Program

I’d like to ask my readers to donate for Mr. Zhan Xiao Feng. To encourage more donations and show my own support, I created a donation matching program.


To help sponsor Mr. Zhan Xiao Feng to successful complete the liver transplant operation.


Since his situation is instable, I’d like to set the program to be only 3 days. The program starts immediately and ends at 18:00, Jan 18, 2005, Shanghai time. (or 2:00 AM, Jan 18 Seattle time). After the program ends, I will announce the total amount and my macthing amount. Then donate the money to Mr. Zhan Xiao Feng via donation committee.


To encourage more people to lending an helping hand, I am running a donation matching program. I will donate one dollar for every dollar my readers donate to Mr. Zhan Wei Feng within the program time frame up to 200 USD. It means, if all the readers donate 150 USD, I will also provide 150 USD matching donation. If the total amount within 3 days exceeds 200 USD, I will provide 200 USD. [3]


Besides showing your support to a life that needs your help, I would also like to present the following benefit to all donators associated with Wangjianshuo’s blog

  • For ALL donators: I will create a hall of fame that remains on the homepage of Wangjianshuo’s blog with a link (as long as it is non-commercial website) and an description of the donator at the donator’s choice. It is optional benefit. [1]
  • For the first, 10th, 20th, 30th donator, I will have all the articles on this website printed as a book and mail the book to you via international post service. (the destination can be anywhere in the world). [2]

Pleease allow one month of shipping and processing time for the benifits.

How to Donate?

There are several ways to donate.

1. PayPal

I am using my PayPal account as a channel to collect the donation, since currently there is no listed paypal account yet. Meanwhile, all the organizers are students who don’t have U.S. bank account or credit card. It is impossible to directly withdraw money from PayPal in China. I have setup the channel (that is the reason I opened Bank of America in Seattle). To ensure you feel safe about your good will money through this channel, I will ask the person who accepts the money to issue receipt about all your donation and will invite two students of the donation organizing committee to audit the transfer. [4] Click the button below:

Update: PayPal icon removed

2. Bank Account

If you read Chinese, please use any of the donation methods listed in the donation page created by the students. After your donation, please post under this entry with your donation and you are also entitled to this program.

If you cannot make a donation, please also pray for him and show your support to him and his faimly by posting comments.


Note 1: I keep the right of editing, rewriting or not accepting of the links or descriptions. If you don’t agree with the final result, you have the right to quit from the program and get full refund.

Note 2: The print and mailing cost will be part of the 200 USD matching funding, and act as part of my donation.

Note 3: Please understand there is no charity or NGO organization involved in this donation. It is because of the passion to help others that students and I joined the program. Because of the fact that it is the first donation program students run, it may not be professional, or even legally or financially correct. By participating this donation, you acknowledge that you are aware of the risk.

Note 4: Currency will be converted to RMB before delivering to them. Fees related to PayPal or bank charge will be deducted before sending the money.

Important Disclaimer:

This entire program is based on volunteer. As the initiator of this program, I didn’t verify the accuracy or truthfulness of the information. I am NOT liable of any damage, losing of money, or other expense related to this program. I am also NOT liable to any mistakes I or any donation organizing committee, or students make during the program. It is based on good will only.

Update: Zhan passed away

this morning before we can lend helping hands. How quickly the life disappeared is beyond our imagination. The donation has stopped, so does my program. Life is so weak…. Thanks for whatever you did for Zhan. Take care. Sign… January 17, 2005

Yes. I Expect the Flight Delay

After posting two blog entries (I and II), I am still at the Chengdu Airport. My flight CA4519 from Chengdu to Shanghai was expected to depart at 7:20 PM but the latest information I got is, it is delayed to 9:50 PM. At its departurer time, the aircraft was still in Shanghai airport – about 1500 miles away.

Well. I expected the delay. It happens every day. Sometimes I even wonder what went wrong my flight departed on time. I hate to be stack in an airport – I even thought about going back to hotel and coming back tomorrow, but I guess Wendy will definitely feel happy if she see me home, no matter how late it is tonight. Some passengers have fallen asleep on the long benches. It is 18°C here – not suitable for sleep, at least for me.

I just finished the free Sichuan style box meal and half botton of purified water. If I were a beggar, I may be the happiest beggar in the world.

The Chengdu airport has been renovated. The previous old airport was as dirty as typical train station. People enjoyed their hot instant noodle, standing near the boarding gates, and pushing each other for their way to get on board. Now, the new airport is completely a new airport that is as modern as Shanghai Pudong or Beijing Airport.

Visa Card on ATM in China

I received my Bank of America Platinum Check Card before I came to Chengdu. There is a Visa logo on it. It means, I can access my money I deposited in U.S. at all ATM machines here. To check whether it works, I checked the balance with China Construction Bank ATM. It shows the money in currency of Renminbi (RMB). Also, I successfully withdraw 100 RMB from the ATM. I checked the balance again. Only 100 RMB was deducted from the account. It seemed to me that there are no service charge for withdraw cash here, even though I used it on ATM of another bank (and another country).

I was able to check the balance of the card in ATM in Chengdu also. I didn’t try to withdraw money this time.

To Tip or Not to Tip

Yesterday’s entry on tipping received many responses. It was a very interesting discussion and reflects the difference of culture.

I found the explanation of tip in Wikipidia

A tip (also known as gratuity) is a small amount of money received by some service sector professionals from persons they serve, in addition to or instead of a formally required payment.

Tipping is neither regulation, nor required; it is social custom. In China, it is pretty safe to claim that it is a general practice that you do NOT need to pay the tip. Meanwhile, it is high appreciated by the receiption if you do pay tip. It is the unexpected gift.”.

Bob pointed out that “It seems that some people in china target the westerners for request tips.”. It is true. With more and more visitors coming to China, people who pays tip in their country continue to pay the tip before they realize the difference. It helps the server to build the expectation for tips. So some may “request” tip. The bellmen are most likely to expect tips. Wendy and Grace once had unpleasant experience in Five Continent Hotel that the bellman refused to help them (two ladies with heavy boxes) without tip. The 10 RMB tip worked like a charm then.

Regarding the service charge, I agree with JH that it is not a good practice for hotels in China to charge the 15% service charge. For everything you consume in the hotel except the room fee, you are automatically charged 15% of what you consumed. It includes all the restaurants inside the hotel, in-room services, business centers…. I didn’t realize it is some forms of tip until JH reminded me. It seems the hotel has charged the tip on behalf of the servers.

I asked the bellman of Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Chendu where I stayed today. “Do you accept tips?” He answered: “Yes. If guests give us tips, we will be very happy. If not, it is common”. I asked: “Do you keep all the tips?” His answer was positive. I checked with other servers about 15% regular service charge, they answered there was no relationship between the charge and their salary. This obviously went to far from the spirit of tipping.

I treat tipping as a survey system. It is the chance to show the customer’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the service. I am a strong supporter of resuming tipping practices in China. With tipping, I can clearly show my feeling of the service I received. 1 RMB or 2 shows the difference. I don’t understand why some business spent millions of dollars to install expensive survey systems (like those in Banks) that very few people use it. Whenever I was treated badly by taxi drivers or restaurant servers, I think of tip – if I have the choice, I will pay very few tip or tip nothing for this service.

History of Tipping in China

China is actually a country with history of tipping. According to some documents I found, tips were accepted before 1950s. Hairdressers in Chengdu accepted tips [1]. In Shaoxing in Zhejiang province, the public bathroom (with many services) accepted tips, but it was abandoned in 1956. [2]. It was the same in hotel industry Shaoxing in the same year. [2]. The document attributed the improvement of service quality to the abandon of tipping. It is not rare to read about the extra money people gave to service people in old Chinese novels.

Voices of Forbidding Tipping

Regarding the newly emerged tipping practice of some tourism agents, China Consumer’s Association claimed that 1) There is no direct relationship between tipping and service quality. 2) Tipping is NOT a common practice worldwide. I do not agree with any of these two points.

Many business treat tip equally as cheating. In a regulation of China Tourism Bureau, which was published in 1987, “(For all staff in the tourism industry), those who didn’t request but accepted tips will be educated and the tips accepted will be confiscated”. Also, “those who denied tips will be praised and awarded.” “Those who requested, or implied to request tips, will be fined at 3 times of the tipping amount”. Obviously, this is an out-of-date document, but still in use.

Top Two Differences in China

Tip and Tax are among the top differences between China and most western countries.

Before someone steps out of the door of his/she own country, he/she cannot really understand how different people do the same thing. I try to list top differences for foreign visitors to China. Check if you have known this before you pack your package to China.

  • No tip required. You don’t need to pay tip for any service – in restaurants, hotels, taxi… The salary for hotel or restaurant servers is fixed and there is almost no relationship between their performance and their income. In most of the business, accepting tips are strictly forbidden to “protect the right of consumers”. Personally, I believe tip is a good way to encourage good service.
  • Tax is included in all price. If you see something labeled 300 RMB, you pay 300 RMB. All the tax is included in the listed price. This makes the goods in China even cheaper compared to other places. For large goods, like house or business to business transactions, tax are calculated separately.

Taxi in New York City

The yellow taxi in New York is clean and in good condition. The film Taxi Driver seemed misleading to me, because before that, I though the taxis in New York City is as dirty as they described.

© Jian Shuo Wang. Yellow taxi in New York City

It seems Ford is the mainstream of car model. In Shanghai, almost all taxis are Volkswagen Santana. We took taxi from the United Nations to the Empire State Building. If we had bought 7 day metro pass and understood how the bus M42 works, we may save some money.

Flying and Flying…

From Dec 6 of the last year till now, the mileage numbers in many airlines increased a lot: ANA, United, China Eastern and Air China…. As I didn’t disclose, on the first working day of 2005, I went to Beijing and stayed there till Jan 7. I am packing my package for my flight to Cheng Du tomorrow and hopefully I can get back this Friday or Saturday.

I don’t like business travel. On the flight from Beijing to Shanghai, I stared outside the window – I always ask for window seat from my first airplane experience in 1995.

My First Air Travel Experience

It is interesting to recall the excitement when I took the China Southern Airlines for the first time, from Zhengzhou, Henan Province to Shanghai. China Southern Airlines rewarded three free tickets to the top 3 student in the entrance exam in Henan Province (out of half million examinees). (Update: To be accurate, they sponsored free tickets for top students for Peking Univ., Tsinghua Univ, SJTU and Fudan.) I was lucky to get one. Wendy also got one. Gan Quan, who became a good friend of mine in university was the third person. :D I’d like to take the chance, after 9 years, to thank China Southern Airlines for their generous sponsorship.

Vote Me as Bloggies Best Asian Blog

  • Like to read this blog?
  • Followed this blog for some time?
  • Happen to have 1 minute of free time now?

Why not help to vote Wangjianshuo’s blog as Bloggies Best Asian Blogs? Thanks Carroll for her first vote.

Image in courtesy of

The nomination closes by Jan 20, which is about one week away. Every vote is appreciated.

What’s Wangjianshuo’s Blog

Started in September 2002, the only author, Jian Shuo Wang, with the contribution of thousands of commenters, kept writing one article everyday. In the previous 852 days, 868 articles were published. Seven thousands of high quality comments formed interesting and in-depth discussions on Shanghai, China and the world. Topics like Maglev, Pudong airport, raising of house price, cars in Shanghai, and normal Shanghainese’s life were addressed in this blog.

No wonder why it was selected as Top 10 Best Blogs in China in 2003 and concluded as Most Impressive Blogs in 2004. It was mentioned by famous media from New York Times, to MSNBC, from BusinessWeek to Telegraph, from to China Radio International, from That’s Shanghai to MarketPlace and Pacific Time…

The site enjoys 1 million page views per month and 160,000 unique visitors every single month. Jian Shuo Wang is trying his best to keep the blog as personal as possible and record the development of the city in his own point-of-view.

How to Vote?

Visit Bloggies 2005 homepage and scroll down to Best Asian Blogs section. Enter the name of this blog Wangjianshuo’s Blog and URL in the form. Thank you and wish you have a wonderful 2005!

M.I.T and Harvard


© Jian Shuo Wang. Big electronic motors in M.I.T. Museum

This is exactly the M.I.T spirit in my imagination. M.I.T is so different from Harvard and very similiar with SJTU (Shanghai Jiaotong University). I also like the magazine of MIT – The Tech. This campus magazine has 20 pages per issue and shares point-of-view from politics to campus happenings. Impressive!


© Jian Shuo Wang. Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library. View from the Harvard Book Store.

Harvard is a place full of stories. The most interesting story I heard in America was about the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library. A senior of Harvard majoring history told me about the story during the Harvard Guide Tour.

Harry Elkins Widener graduated from Harvard graduated from Harvard. He went to Europe for four years. When he went back to New York with all the books he collected in Europe, his ship, the Tantanic sunk in Altantic. Harry’s mother was so sad that she donated all she had to Harvard and wanted to build a Harry memorial library. Besides naming the library after his son, she asked three rules to be written into the contract:

  • There should be a reading room at the west wing of the building that is strictly replica of Harry’s reading room at home. Harvard needs to provide daily cleaning service for the room. This rule was kept till now (from 1914).
  • No bricks of this library shall be removed or replaced to keep the integrity of the memorial. To keep this rule, Harvard needs to use the window as entrance when an extension to the building was constructed
  • Believing unable to swim was one of the reason for his son’s death, the month requires all Harvard university graduate to proof he/she can swim at least 100 meters to get his/her diploma. This rule was abonderned about enforcing 10 years.

It was said that the month also donated to make Harvard serve icecream at all dining room from morning since 1914 because his son complained a lot that there was no icecream in Harvard.

This story helped me to understand the rational behind so many public donated libraries, parks, statues, schools, art works, and charities. The respect to the donator’s will is an important factor to encourage the donation. I am thinking of Smiling Library project, where I acted as part time consultant. If small portion of money was spent to honor those who donate the books, it will encourage more people to donate – to name the a library in a remote province after the biggest donator, or at least at the donator understand where his/her books go, and get some feedback from those who benefit from the donation, they are all very good way to keep the wheel running.

MagLev May Extend to Hangzhou

According to the recent news report, the Maglev may extend to Hangzhou via Shanghai Expo 2010 site. The two cities with 2 hour train’s ride now may be reduced to 27 minute’s of Maglev’s ride.

The Maglev train is about 4 km away from my current home. If it extends, it will goes along the Long Yang road. There is no obvious direct compact to my life yet. Maybe the only one is, when I drive across the Long Yang Road to work everyday, I may frequently see the fast train flying on the track everyday. Although Maglev has been in operation for more than one year, I am still very excited when I see a Maglev train “flys” away when I drive on the A20 express way to Pudong Airport (or back). It is with proud to introduce the 430 KM/H peek speed to friends coming to my city.

I spent some time to report on Maglev. Among positive comments, there is negative one like this: Maglev – A Failure?. Anyway, at the time when it seems the decision of to extend it to Hangzhou was made, my best wishes to the new Maglev project and hope it will bring more economical miracle to Hangzhou, Shanghai and towns along the line.

See also:

Congratulations to Zong Rui’s Wedding

Zong Rui is my university room mate. We lived in the same dorm for two years. After that, Rui went to Tokyo for his career there.

I got his SMS when I was in New York (yes, I could still receive my SMS with my China Mobile cellphone). He told me he was going to hold his wedding ceremony in Marriot (Hong Qiao) Hotel. It was a big surprise for me. Wendy and I went to the ceremony and were very appy for him. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Zong! My best wishes to you two!

Phantom of Opera Shanghai Schedule

Phantom of Opera comes to Shanghai Grand Theatre. Here is the schedule.


It will be on stage from 8th to 30th, everyday except Monday. There are two shows on Sat and Sun (13:30 and 19:15). There is only one show on weekdays (19:15).


Everyday except 8, 15, 21, 24, 28.

Information source:

Call 800-820-1585 for ticket. Ticket price ranges from 100 RMB to 2000 RMB.

P.S. The reason I started to post theatre information on this blog is, after my U.S. trip, I was so attracted by theaters. Also, I found for visitors, it not as easy as local people to find ticket information, especially on the rating of the theatre. In Shanghai, we know Shanghai Grand Theatre is among the best venue for performance art and musical in Shanghai. New comers may not know it yet… I am planning to see Phantom of Opera in Shanghai again. The price (the lowest one) is still far cheaper than the one we bought at Broadway in New York City (the half price was still 54 USD while the full price is 100 USD)

Update January 9, 2004

I called Shanghai Grand Theatre. The sad news is, the 100 RMB ticket has been all sold out. The lowest price for Jan is 260 RMB. It seems the ticket is very hot. There are only three tickets left for today’s show (500, 500, and 260 RMB) when I asked this noon.

New Press Report on my Blog

Some kind readers and friends sent me email or commented to let me my blog was mentioned on some media these days. I am certainly happy to know that. I don’t want to show off about the media exposure especially where I was just mentioned. I admit whenever someone posted me “Hey, visit this news site, your site is there!” I feel a little bit anxious. I don’t want anything to sensive repeated to bigger audience. :D

December 19, 2004 / New York Times

Your blog or mine by JEFFREY ROSEN

…”Mu Zimei has released the name of the men who has ever slept with,” wrote a Shanghai blogger named Wangjianshuo. “This is bad. I believe a blog can reveal whatever you want to show about yourself, but not others.” In response to criticism from the blogosphere, Mu Zimei deleted the explicit discussions of her sexual encounters when began to serialize her work in November….

Thanks for Richard for notifying me and blogging about it.

January 4, 2005 /

Blog in China: Review of 2004 and forecast for 2005 by Kang Guo Ping

Top 20 Most Impressive Blogs in 2004

8. Wangjianshuo’s blog The best English blog in China. The author’s open mind is good. Because his serious recording, it gained wide recognition among bloggers.

January 6, 2005 / KQED Pacific Time

A Chinese Blogger in America (Part 1) hosted by Nguyen Qui Duc

It was broadcasted on KQED Public Radio at 6:30 PM on January 4, 2004. It will be aired on many public radio stations in California, Hawaii, Illinos, Iowa, New York, Washington and Hong Kong.

Thanks Nina and Amy to make it happen.

Grassroot Art in Seattle

This is the part a series travelogue after my U.S. trip at the end of 2004.

Neither The Phantom of Opera in Broadway, nor The Lion King in Paramount Theater, even the Nutcracker in the Lincoln Center surprised me as much as the grassroots art I saw in Seattle. Of cause they are wonderful shows, but my expectation are as high. What I didn’t expect is, at the dirtiest and hard-to-find old abandoned building, there are some artists playing drama tirelessly, and the standard is as high.

The Reason

One night at Seattle, I decide to go to theater. I checked website and found any interesting show. Although the name seems too sexy, the introduction on their website indicates they are serious artist.

I hesitated quite some time before I entered the building. The condition is miserable. It seems to be an abandoned building nobody live in. It is near the viaduct so it is very noisy at night. Later, I discovered at different floors in this building lived photographers, play writers, and painters. The theater was on the second floor.

© Jian Shuo Wang. The building they performs.

This is the stage. They are very professional lighting and audio system, although there are no many seats for audience. 10 persons attended the show that night, and I heard it was among the most crowded show. It is amazing that the performed seriously every night for audience that may be as little as 2 or 3 persons!


Photo in courtesy of Live Girls Theater. Taken inside the room with permission from the theater owner

The Play

Two actors and two actresses performed the one-act play three times according to the three writer’s scripts with the same characters. It was more like an experiment and very interesting. I admit it is a big challenge for my English listening comprehension. I didn’t catch all the details but some scene repeated in my mind the days after.

Secret Gallery

Another great discovery was the secret gallery beside the backstage of the theater (well, they called it theater, which is so different than my previous concept of a theater). The painters or the photographers are normal people who claimed themselves to be artists. It is very inspiring that art is not something we can only find in MoMA or Louver. An big empty room like this works great for displaying personal pictures. They put price tag to the art work so people interested may buy it. It seems more like donation than a deal for these no-so-well-known artists.

The following pictures were taken inside the gallery (with permission).

Art is Everywhere

This is the strongest feeling I had everyday. Imagine a city that has both proven-successful art and grassroots art equally prosperous. At the same night, while Lion King performs in splendid and historical Paramount Theater and well-known painters have their work displayed in SAM (Seattle Art Museum), shows like the Live Girls and painting like those displayed in the gallery also exists. This is quite impressive for me. In Shanghai, I seldom visit any place related to art. This trip changed me a lot. I know there are also lots of art activities in Shanghai. I just didn’t spend time to discover it.

Later, when I visited Chicago and New York, the feeling of art got stronger and stronger. More and more painting like graffiti (thanks Amy), street singers, metro players, but the shock they brought to me didn’t go beyond the experience in Seattle.

Bandwidth Crisis – Part Two

This is the second time I claimed the bandwidth crisis (the last one). This time, it is more urgent and more severe.

The Data

The problem to be a successful blog related to high traffic is the bandwidth issue. Here is the data:


Data source: traffice report

The data indicates this site is serving 16,1797 visitors in December 2004, and transfered 51.53 gigabyte of data the same month. There is a huge jump in the number in the first 6 days of 2005. 17G of data has been transmitted till now. I got the warning from ISP that the bandwith for this month will run out in the middle of this month.

The Solution

URL redirect is my solution to this problem. Since Tim Berners Lee educated us that Cool URIs Never changes. I strongly believe a good website citizen needs to keep the URL of the published content unchanged. So I won’t consider move any part of the existing content on my website to another location.

I used the URL Rewrite Engine in my host computer. It works this way:

The URL for the picture has been “hard coded” in each of the blog entry. For example, this picture in this entry: seems to resides on the server Actually, it is not. I used the following rewrite rule:

RewriteEngine on

RewriteRule (archives/200[1234]/.*\.jpg)$1 [R]

RewriteRule (photo/.*.jpg$)$1 [NC,R]

This rule indicates, whenever a client request a file that resides in archives/2001, archives/2002, archives/2003, archives/2004 folders with a .jpg extension, the server tell it not to bother to ask it from my server; get it from, a server without any bandwidth limit instead. So I keep the content of each entry unchanged. Meanwhile, I kept a replica of the archive folder on the new server. I can change this location at any time. For /photo, it is the same.

I hope this is helpful for others who face the same situation. (Congratulations if you also worry about this issue).


Eric offered to donate to help me overcome this problem. I appreciate it but it is not neccessary. It is far more expensive to add bandwidth to the existing package than buying a completely new one. I have choosen the URL Redirect solution. The Google advertisement on my site has covered all the hosting cost already.

Things to Prepare for Visiting U.S.

For people to visit U.S. from China, I guess the following items are necessary to survive. I am trying to keep this list as short as possible and only list the most important stuff. I will ignore obvious things like cloth and passport… This list applies to those who travel from U.S. or Europe to China as well since the difference is in two directions.

Travel Plug Converter

Not only the voltage differs between China (220 Volt) and U.S.(110 Volt). So do the shapes of the outlets. Most electronics we carry outside the country were designed to tolerate wide range of electric voltage, such as laptop (at least my Dell laptop) and mobile phone/digital camera recharge, but the shape of the plugs and the outlet may not be compatible. This is the model I brought with me to U.S.


Image credit: Planet3000

The plug of my laptop is for use in China only with the shape of this:


\ /

Although I don’t need a voltage converter, I still need this otherwise my plug cannot connect with the outlet. This is also the first time in my last four U.S. visit that I prepared this in advance. In the first three trips, I always need to spend 1 or 2 days looking for this small, cheap but important stuff.

People in U.S. traveling to China may also consider this issue.

Calling Card or Mobile Phone

It is critical to have a calling card or mobile phone with you when traveling in U.S. To use the coin to call back home is just too expensive and inconvenient.

I brought my mobile with me and it worked very well. The Dopod 515 with me. It is a tri-band mobile. China is using band 900/1800 MHz while U.S. is using 1900 MHz. After I arrived in U.S., I changed the setting to 1900 MHz (note: it will not change automatically) and then I was using wireless service provided by local providers. I have experienced Cingular, AT&T and T-Mobile during my stay. I didn’t use the phone though, but to some device with you that you can turn to during emergency gave me a sense of security in foreign land.


© Jian Shuo Wang. Cingular on my mobile

Be sure to call 1860 to open international roaming service first. It is free.

English Translation of Driver’s License

Although not required, it is much more convenient to have an English copy of your Chinese driver’s license if you plan to drive. I translated it myself and print it out with a normal printer. It helped because there is no English on the license.

Credit Card

This needs special note that not all cards issued in China can be used online or aboard, even it has a Visa or Master logo. My China Merchant Bank International Credit Card worked great. Now the good thing is, I can pay with credit card with USD and deposit Chinese Yuan to keep the balance. I didn’t exchange US dollars for this trip. Before, when USD was hot, people always take the chance to exchange as much U.S. dollars as possible (2000 USD limit) because it is the only chance to exchange U.S dollars by Chinese Yuan.


If possible, instant noodle may be a good choice just in case. I regret that I didn’t bring some when there is nothing to eat at deep nights. We have rushed from the White House area in Washington, D.C. to China town (via metro) and bought instant noodle in 24-hour CVS there and brought it back to hotel at around 12:00 in mid-night. All restaurants were closed, according to the hotel receiption. We didn’t expect this and assumed restaurants open till deep night.

Is there more stuff people needs to go to US? Please suggest.

Life in New York is Tough for Me

The life in New York is tough for me. For a visitor who earns money in China (with RMB) and spend USD in New York, it is not easy. Everything seems expensive – very expensive. To get a place to settle down and to have enough food is challenge. I experienced the tough life a new comer to that city. Although I have the option to enjoy luxious trip, but I want to experience the real life of New York so we decided to cut budget as much as possible to see how much we have to spend in that city.

Shanghai is More Expensive than New York

According to a survey by CNN, if the living cost in the city of New York is a starting point with an index of 100, Shanghai is 136. I have all kinds of evidence to show you it is not true. My guess for Shanghai index should be around 20 if New York is 100.

Food is Expensive

In New York, typical dishes are among 4 – 10 USD and we spend about 20 USD very meal in Chinese restaurant. Even in McDonald’s, I have to spend 10 – 14 USD per meal. What does it mean? It is 100 – 160 RMB. This is much more expensive than the most expensive everyday meal in Shanghai. In Shanghai, 50 RMB per person in a meal is rated as good meal already and 100 RMB per person means very expensive (and often good) meal.

In McDonald’s, a No 1 Meal Suite (a big Mac, fried potato and Pepsi) cost 5.99 USD in New York while in Shanghai, it costs only 19 RMB (a little bit more than 2 USD). Additional, the price in New York does not include tax while all price in China is final with everything included. Some times the tip I pay is more than a meal I pay in China.


I won’t complain about Shanghai Metro or Bus again. Bus or Subway in New York costs 2 USD, while in Shanghai, bus costs 1 – 2 RMB (0.12 – 0.24 USD) and typical Metro ride costs 3 – 4 RMB (0.36 – 0.48 USD).


We stayed in hotels in Washington, D.C and Boston, but not in New York. We stayed in friends and relative’s house in Flushing and New Rochelle. The cheapest hotel (reasonable) I found is Hayden Hotel which costs 99 USD plus tax. I searched Shanghai Hotel in Expedia and found the hotels in Shanghai seem more expensive. Maybe the reason is, the hotels in Shanghai are always full so they don’t offer discount.


I am not willing to buy gifts in New York, especially those clothes made in China. They are much more expensive than those in China. I bought 4 T-Shirt with “I Love New York” logo at 12 USD. They are the only gift we bought.

I am the Poor in New York

I am the poor in New York. I faced the challenges I never met in Shanghai – how to take buses to save money? Where is the cheapest restaurant? Where should we stay tomorrow?

Subways in New York

I admire the great achievements New Yorkers created in New York. After I studied New York History at, I learnt that the majority of the New York Subway system was completed between 1904 and 1918. With this background information, the current subway seems so advanced and clean. The lines 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, A, B, C, D, E, S, N, Q, R, W, V, L connects the suburbs and Manhattan and make it so convenient.

The rails.


© Jian Shuo Wang.

The tunnels.


© Jian Shuo Wang

The train.


© Jian Shuo Wang

The signs (color, font, Exit..) are great. It makes the navigation very clear. I was so amused when I found the sign plate was collected by MoMA as Modern Art. Along with the MTA sign, iMac was also along the exhibition.


    Subway Lines


    © Jian Shuo Wang. The sign displayed in MoMA

    To 1 Line Route and Schedule To 2 Line Route and Schedule To 3 Line Route and Schedule To 4 Line Route and Schedule To 5 Line Route and Schedule To 5 Diamond Line Route and Schedule To 6 Line Route and Schedule To 6 Express Line Route and Schedule To 7 Line Route and Schedule To 7 Express Line Route and Schedule
    To A Line Route and Schedule To B Line Route and Schedule To C Line Route and Schedule To D Line Route and Schedule To E Line Route and Schedule To F Line Route and Schedule To G Line Route and Schedule To J Line Route and Schedule To L Line Route and ScheduleTo M Line Route and ScheduleTo N Line Route and Schedule
    To Q Line Route and Schedule To R Line Route and Schedule To S Line Route and Schedule To V Line Route and Schedule To W Line Route and Schedule To Z Line Route and Schedule

Skyscrapers in New York

Shanghai is still in the stage when people tend to relate the word “modern” to “skyscrapers”. I am the same. When I am in Shanghai, I dream of visiting mountains in West China; while when I set foot to America, the most exciting city for me is still New York – for the skyscrapers.


© Manhanton, facing north from the top of the Empire State Building


© Manhanton, facing south from the top of the Empire State Building


© Jian Shuo Wang


© Jian Shuo Wang. New York is one of the few cities where there is no sunlight on the street.


© Jian Shuo Wang. Buildings along the Park Ave. near the 86 street.